For many people, writing the book is the easy part. Whether you have a body of work ready to repurpose (such as a blog you’ve maintained for several years) or a ghostwriter at the ready, or you just really like to write, getting your book on paper is simple.
Publishing and selling it is another matter altogether. You basically have four options when it comes to publishing your book, and each one has its pros and cons.
PDF Ebook. Probably the simplest method to publish a book, all that’s required with an ebook is to click “Save as…” in your Word document and choose “PDF.” Then you can sell the resulting file on your own website, list it on ClickBank or E-Junkie, or upload it to a number of other ebook marketplaces online.
Ebooks don’t quite have the authority that printed books carry, but if you’re on a budget and don’t have the skills to format your book for print, then this can be a viable option to get you off the ground. It’s also a great way to share your book with advance readers to get those all-important testimonials.
Kindle. The darling of the self-publishing world, Amazon’s Kindle marketplace makes it easy for you to publish your book. In fact, with just a few minutes of formatting, and another several minute spent on their step-by-step uploading system, you can have your book on their virtual shelves in less than an hour.
With its incredible popularity and the ability to offer “free days” during which anyone can download your book at no cost, Kindle is a great way to build a buzz quickly.
Print on Demand. The best choice for self-published authors is a relatively new technology that allows for a single book to be printed on demand. Until just a few years ago, if you chose to self-publish your book you’d likely have to shell out for hundreds if not thousands of copies upfront, leaving you with a garage full of books to sell on your own.
Print on demand is different. Buyers order your book from sellers such as Amazon (whose Create Space arm is itself a print on demand enterprise), and the book is printed and shipped the next day. This makes it easy and cost-effective for everyone to become a published author.
Traditional Publisher. The most difficult and time-consuming option, getting your book published with a traditional print publisher will also get you the most audience and press. The drawbacks are many, though. To start, it’s extremely difficult to get a traditional publishing house to take on a new author. If you do manage to get the attention of a publisher, your royalties (the amount you earn from your book) will be very small—maybe as little as 8% of the net cost. Finally, the length of time it takes from manuscript submission to final publication can be years.
All that said, a book with a traditional publishing insignia on the spine does carry a bit more weight when it comes to press opportunities than does a self-published book.
Many new authors initially choose the ebook format and then move to Kindle and print on demand. Given enough buzz and sales, traditional publication becomes easier to attain as well. The important thing is to get your book written, and then publish where you’re most comfortable. The rest will come naturally.